23 Things I’ve Learned In 23 Years

Life is one long lesson and we are constantly learning. I recently turned 23 and over my birthday weekend I considered some of the things that I’ve learned over my short lifetime. I’ve had so many lessons and so many learning curves, some good, some bad but I thought I would share a few of them with you.

Photo by Christian Kaindl on Unsplash

So, in no particular order, here are 23 things I’ve learned in 23 years (this list is not exhaustive):

  1. It’s okay to be alone, it’s not okay to be lonely
  2. There’s always room for improvement
  3. It’s important to know where you stand on things so that people cannot take advantage of you
  4. Don’t let your desperation make your decisions for you
  5. Sometimes just say no – it’s not everyday try and experiment
  6. My heart is big and it needs protecting
  7. Don’t let your temper control you, it’s down to you to control it
  8. Make time to enjoy yourself
  9. Money isn’t everything
  10. You are the most important person in your life
  11. My naturalness is beautiful
  12. Confidence takes practice
  13. Not every day will be a good day and that’s okay
  14. Change takes time, don’t be too hard yourself
  15. It’s okay to not fit in
  16. Trust your gut; you can read people better than you think
  17. There are people who love and care about you
  18. If you don’t wanna go out then don’t; you’ll only regret it if you do
  19. Everyone is not looking at you; just relax
  20. Don’t make too many or too specific plans, they change
  21. Not everyone you call your friend (or calls themselves your friend) will have your best interests at heart
  22. All relationships require work, both the physical and the spiritual
  23. You don’t have to trust all your “friends”

Life is not just a lesson it’s an exam so I constantly have to revise and remind myself of what I’ve learned. Some days it’s easier than others but I have to keep trying, traveling and fighting and so do you.

What important life lessons have you learned in your life? Leave them in the comments!

Address the Stress

An air of disruption has surrounded my life for the past few weeks. My sleep has been chaotic; I’ve been having wild dreams, so vivid that they themselves have been interrupting my sleep. I’ve struggled to fall asleep and then, in turn, waking up so early, it’s been bizarre. On top of that my concentration levels have been very low. I struggled to maintain focus on any of the tasks that I’ve undertaken. My mind would wonder, preoccupied with the cares of my life, my thoughts had hijacked my attention making everyday tasks harder to complete.

The cause of these disruptions: Stress. Stress is one of the of leading causes of sickness in the workplace, I’m not saying my job is causing my stress I’m just highlighting how disruptive stress can be and that stress cannot really be “separated”. Your work life, home life and social life are all a part of your one life and try as you may they can never be divided. However, there are things that can be done to help minimise stress. *Disclaimer: these suggestions are based on my own personal experiences.

First, you most likely will have a clear indication of the cause of your stress. Don’t hide your feelings towards them. Burying your feelings can be likened to a volcano: inactive for a time being until a catastrophic explosion destroys everything around it: Address the Stress.

This can be done by taking a step back. People always say “look at the bigger picture” but I think when it comes to issues keeping you up at night sometimes the best thing to do is to focus on different areas of the picture. This is called compartmentalising. Take that picture and assess the foreground; what’s happening? Within the middle ground of the picture what can you see and what can you make of the background? Break you issues down, look at them as little hills rather than one big, massive mountain.

Once you’ve broken your stresses down you can develop an action plan for the bite-size problems that make up the bigger one. A lot of the time when something is causing us stress we ask ourselves the question “What am I going to do?!” The joke is that nine times out of ten we don’t even answer the question, we just leave it unanswered and allow ourselves to be consumed (and stressed) by the question. This is where the action plan comes into play. Remember you’ve already broken down what’s getting to you from its huge entirety into segments, this is important when creating your plans. You may recall my post on SMART targets, creating an action plan is not a dissimilar process. Consider the questions:

  • How can I break this situation down even further?
  • What do I have control over?
    • What can I do about that which I have control over?
  • Can anyone one help me?
  • Do I have a time limit surrounding this situation?
  • What quick wins can I establish?
  • How can I resign my feelings over that which I don’t have control over?

If you can answer these questions in regards to the segments you manage to break down from your mountain then you should be able to think more clearly in response to situations that you find yourself in.  After developing a plan you have to trust it, you can’t create a solution and then stay worrying about your problem. For one, you’ve wasted your time and you may need to consider if you actually like feeling stressed. No? Then let the plan take its course.

Another thing to consider when being consumed by stress is exercise. Yes, I know, that is the last thing on your mind but the chemical benefits of physical exercise cannot be disputed. Give it a try and let me know how it goes if I’m wrong and it doesn’t positively benefit you then I’ll eat my hat. It’s also important to have a supportive network of people around you. This network may not consist of a large number of people, it may not even consist of people you consider to be your closest friends but there will be people around you (and you’ll know who they are) who can fulfill this role. This support network will offer objective advice in relation to your situation or may act as a sounding board for days when your situation is getting to you more than normal. Not sure what a good support network looks like? Consider these attributes:

  • Non-judgemental
  • Listens
  • Doesn’t belittle or patronise
  • Offers advise but doesn’t take offense when you choose not to take it
  • Rationalises your thoughts

Finally, do you have a faith? Use it. There is evidence to suggest that having faith in a higher power (in my case, God) can lead to a reduction in stress. Having a faith produces a sense of optimism that those who don’t believe in anything do not hold. For me, my faith allows me to feel comfortable and secure in the fact that things will eventually work for me no matter how long it takes because my God “keeps the promise of love to those that love Him”.

In closing, don’t bury your feelings; compartmentalise your problems; create actions plans; exercise, establish who your support network is (and use them!) and utilise your faith.

As far as I’m concerned? It’s time to take my own advice.

Insecurities: My Natural Hair Journey and Beyond

From the day I was born until… this year actually,  my biggest insecurity was my hair. I have very thick, coarse, kinky hair. When I was young I used to hate having my hair done because it hurt, yes, many a comb has been broken in my hair. I used to cry and cry and cry, apparently, once I refused to let my mum do my hair and felt no shame in walking around with it looking like a total mess (I just wished I had a picture of this).

As I got older it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want my hair doing but that my hair wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. As I said I have very thick hair, typified as 4C (sometimes I joke and say I have 4Z hair). This means that when I straightened it wouldn’t stay straight for very long, it means that it doesn’t lie completely flat, it means that I can’t just gel it and go. When I was younger I didn’t really understand this and in theory, none of those things are really a problem but when you’re the minority comparing yourself to the majority all of these things matter. I didn’t want my “nappy head” to mean I stood out from the crowd.

Photo by Ralph Evans on Unsplash

Going to church every week was the same. I’d imagine a style in my head but when it came to executing it never quite looked the way pictured it. I never even liked the way I looked with a scarf wrap when whatever style I originally wanted didn’t work. This resulted in A LOT of tears and I would flat out refuse to go. Sometimes I’d be allowed to stay home, other times I’d be told to suck it up and get a move on. In the end, I got a perm then I grew that out, relaxed my hair and wore clip-ins but then my hair started thinning so I decided to grow it out. Transitioning from chemically treated hair to natural hair isn’t an easy process and I didn’t really do my research so my ends began to break even more as the pressure required on my natural hair was far more intense than my relaxed ends. Now, I can be quite emotional and dramatic at times (I’m growing) so one day when I was full of frustration, with tears falling down my face, I grabbed a pair of scissors fro my dad’s barbering kit and cut all my hair off.

From there I started a “natural hair journey” but I still lacked the confidence to wear my natural hair out. I wore wigs, weaves, sometimes braids and a pony every once in a while and though whilst I did not have the confidence to wear my hair out during this time I learned a lot about my hair and I learned to love it. I discovered what my hair can do, what works for it and what doesn’t. But like I said I still didn’t have the confidence to wear it out. After about three or four years my hair was about shoulder length so the fool in me decided I wanted to relax it again I loved it but then I had it into a bob and I wasn’t really feeling it so much anymore…

Six weeks passed and I really didn’t want to touch up my roots, my sister suggested, and not for the first time in my life, that I cut it. I seriously considered it but was still unsure. In the end, I did it, I made an impulsive decision whilst out to lunch with my friend and got my hair cut.

Since cutting my hair my confidence has definitely risen. I like the fact that in my most natural state I can be comfortable, I like the fact that I don’t have to be stupid hot with a wig on my head to like the way that I look. It’s made me more impulsive as far as my appearance is concerned, a couple of weeks ago  I was walking around with purple hair. I came to the conclusion that how can you be insecure about something that is supposed to look the way that it does?! My hair is kinky, it grows out my head that way so why wouldn’t it suit me, am I not fearfully and wonderfully made?

Nearly everyone has insecurities as far as their appearances are concerned. This is no secret as there are so many articles flying around highlighting the increase in the number of individuals suffering from low self-esteem due to features on their persons. The reasons for these insecurities can be blamed on so many different things. We say it’s film and television; we blame magazines; we attribute it to our upbringing and we believe that social media has its part to play too. I can’t dispute these causes and I cannot say why people appear to be less confident in themselves in years gone by. However, we spend too much time talking about the reasons why and not enough time trying to build up confidence in ourselves and in other people. Think about it, how many times a day to you say or think something negative about yourself? Now, many times you say or think something positive about yourself, does the number pale in comparison? If it does try changing that, you can only benefit from turning the tables. Consider the amount of time spent talking with your friends about the appearance of others in a not so positive light? Does it benefit you? Does it benefit them? No. So what’s the point?

Just stop wasting your time and your breath. Give more compliments, to yourself and to others and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Love yourself.